Supt Column - School District Saves on Building Referendum

Supt Column - School District Saves on Building Referendum
Posted on 12/15/2016
Wausau Daily Herald 

12/15/2016 - Page A03


School district saves on building referendum

KATHLEEN WILLIAMS

FOR USA TODAY NETWORK-WISCONSIN

For the last four years, the Wausau School District has been unrelenting in its pursuit of studying its facilities and needs, with both district and community stakeholder involvement. Our goal was to develop a plan on which you could rely; we demanded that of ourselves.

As you can imagine, the process to attain that goal has been arduous and complex, involving data collection, research, surveying our public, passing a building referendum and, finally, designing and constructing spaces to meet our needs.Before passage of the April 2015 referendum to build on to four elementary schools and two high schools, the district conveyed to the

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public the cost and corresponding tax impact of a "yes" vote. It was communicated through a series of public information sessions that the district would borrow $29,565,000 for the entire project.

At the time, a 3.94 percent interest rate for the borrowing was assumed with an initial mill rate impact of 0.12 or $12 of tax on a $100,000 property. By separating the borrowing into two separate bond issues, along with fortunate timing, the School Board and administration were able to achieve a final interest rate of 3.06 percent.

The savings through using this strategy, along with interest rates that were lower than anticipated, saved significant dollars for local taxpayers. The amount of interest to be paid over 20 years ultimately was reduced by more than $4.! 2 million from what was anticipated. With the recently approved 2017-18 district budget, which includes the full debt payments for this referendum, the mill rate went from 11.12 before the referendum to a current rate of 11.14, a $2 increase from prior to the referendum on a $100,000 property. This is great news, indeed.

During the referendum campaign, information was shared that regardless of passage of the referendum, boundaries would need to be adjusted. After more than a year of study and nine months of reflection of an initial boundary adjustment plan brought forward in February and recommended by the Parent Boundary Study Team, the School Board gave its unanimous approval to a final plan at a special meeting preceding its regular business meeting Nov. 14.

Reliability is something in which the Wausau School District takes pride, and we! are pleased that we followed through on the faith you put in us.

Kathleen Williams is superintendent of the Wausau School District.